World champion bowler is the pride of Burntisland

Martin Hunter, who became world champion in disabled bowls in New Zealand last week, at Burntisland Bowling Club. 4 March 15. Pic: George McLuskie
Martin Hunter, who became world champion in disabled bowls in New Zealand last week, at Burntisland Bowling Club. 4 March 15. Pic: George McLuskie

A Burntisland man has overcome physical disability to be crowned a world champion in sport.

Martin Hunter is the pride of the town after a stunning performance at the International Bowls for the Disabled World Championships held in New Zealand last week.

The inspirational 45-year-old claimed a gold medal in the B7 singles category, helping the Scotland team to its best ever medal haul at the tournament.

And Martin admitted that he was over the moon after completing a 30-hour journey back to Fife over the weekend.

“The feeling was unbelievable - I was so jubilant that I was jumping in the air,” he told the Press.

“I had the rest of the Scotland team watching me in the final and the support they gave me was second to none.

“I’m still on cloud nine, although the jet lag is bringing me back to earth!

“It’s an amazing feeling and I still can’t believe it.”

Martin’s path to the gold medal was anything but straight forward as he came through six tough group games before facing a previously undefeated South Korean in the semi-final.

However, an emphatic 21-9 victory booked Martin’s place in the final against the host nation’s Barry Charity, where the Fifer held his nerve to win a closely fought match 21-16.

“I’m the Fife and Scottish singles champion so I went out there hoping to do something but to come back with gold was beyond anything I thought I could get in my first world championships,” he said.

“It’s definitely my biggest achievement by far - this is huge for me.

“The win over the Korean guy in the semi-final was my best result of the week and was an eye-opener for everyone.”

Martin has suffered from spina bifida since birth - a fault in the development of the spine - which has left him with a weakness in his right leg.

It meant he was unable to participate in physical sports growing up, but after taking up bowls at the age of 12, Martin found something that he not only enjoyed, but was rather good at.

“My dad got me into bowls when I was 12 - he taught me everything I know and is a good inspiration,” he said.

“It’s one of the sports I can do. I tried pool but I’m not as good as that as I am at bowls.

“It can physically tire me out at times but it’s a sport that equals things out for me.

“I can play against able-bodied bowlers and I’ve managed to win my club championship at Burntisland for the past few years.”

Martin has developed into one of the top disability bowlers in Scotland with regional and national titles to his name, while he was also part of the Scotland triples team that won bronze in the prestigious 8 Nations Championships in 2013.

After just missing out on selection for Scotland’s para-sport bowls team at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Martin hopes he can make it to Gold Coast in Australia in 2018.

“It would be great if I could make it into the team in three years time,” he said. “I just need to keep playing as well as I can.”